Richard Threlfall 
Richard Threlfall
Editor, Asian Journal of Organic Chemistry, Wiley 

“A negative result is still a result!” is a common, if slightly ironic, utterance that can frequently be heard around the ivory towers. I must say that I agree with this sentiment, and I agree with it to the extent that I think everyone who reviews a scholarly paper should be asking about what doesn’t work almost as much as what does. It’s the things that don’t work that set the boundaries for a particular method or technique. However, more importantly than that, the unanswered questions as to why something doesn’t work lay the foundations for future research, and I’d argue that this is precisely why peer reviewers should always ask for a few “negative results”* to be included in every paper they see.


Source: iStockphoto
Source: iStockphoto

Posing the question

So if you’re a referee, how exactly should you ask about what doesn’t work? As soon as you’ve read the paper there will no doubt be ideas popping into your head, such as “I wonder what would have happened if they had tried X or Y?”. The key here is not to be afraid to ask obvious questions or to assume that the authors did try X or Y and it didn’t work so they simply didn’t include it. If the authors have already thought about or even tested your suggestion, then it won’t be too much of a problem to answer your question. If they haven’t already thought about it, then your question will be helpful in opening up other ideas for them. Your simple question at the refereeing stage might also save someone else trying something that the authors of the current study already know doesn’t work, but they just haven’t addressed this in their paper.

Prioritizing the issues

When asking about the limitations of a study, the skill is to keep your requirements as a reviewer in perspective. You may be able to think of several things that the authors could try, but on the flip side you can’t be too demanding or expect authors to stray too far from the main scope of their study. Prioritize what you think are the most important issues; for example, if you were the editor, could you accept the paper without the authors trying X and Y? If not, why not? Make sure to clearly state this in your referee report. If you have other ideas but you wouldn’t necessarily reject the paper if they weren’t included, you can put these forward as “nice to haves”. These suggestions may be informative for the authors in thinking about future work even if they aren’t studied in depth in the current paper.

Limitations vs. inconsistencies

Another important thing to bear in mind is that limitations are very different from inconsistencies. Where data and conclusions don’t match or one set of results seems to contradict another, as a referee you have a right to closely examine and pose questions until the inconsistency is resolved. In cases where inconsistencies are very severe, you are justified in asking for more work to be done, but the natural limits of a technique shouldn’t detract too much from the results and the advances that have been made.

As an editor, there’s nothing I like to see more in a referee report than a reviewer who pushes to know just what the boundaries of a piece of work are. Therefore, I encourage everyone who reviews papers to ask about limitations and request more data where it’s necessary, but at the same time keep expectations in perspective and remember to focus on what has been achieved in a paper, as well as what hasn’t. Not every method works for every situation, so it’s important to know where the borders lie. That’s why a “negative result” is indeed still very much a result.

*As an aside, I don’t like the term “negative results” and think that it’s distinctly unhelpful to science. Getting published in a “top” journal, whatever your definition of one happens to be, is pretty competitive these days, which leads me to think that scientists are getting more reluctant to include so-called “negative results” in papers for fear of missing out on a spot in that coveted journal. However, “negative results” are an integral part of the development of research, and hiding them away is to the detriment of us all.

    Victoria Murphy
Victoria Murphy
Program Manager, Sense About Science

At Sense About Science, we see early career researchers – members of the Voice of Young Science (VoYS) network – standing up for science. They take an active role in public debates about science: tackling misconceptions, challenging pseudoscientific product claims and responding to misinformation in all kinds of media. But what about the rest of the scientific community? Professor Elizabeth Hadley, Stanford University, believes that communication is an obligation for scientists, as a long term dialogue with the public and policy makers. But not everyone feels scientists do a good job engaging with the media.

Prof Hadley was speaking on a panel at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) conference in San Jose last month. The conference is attended by up to 8,000 scientists, communicators, members of the public, and policy makers from across the globe. This year, Sense About Science UK and Sense About Science USA joined the conference for the first time.


Sense About Science Workshop at AAAS Source: Victoria Murphy
Sense About Science Workshop at AAAS
Source: Victoria Murphy

I don’t know what to believe…

During the panel discussion, Lee Rainie began by asking the audience “How do we know what to believe?”, and followed up by proposing the answer inevitably involves consulting experts. This strongly echoes Sense About Science’s work encouraging scientists to share the question “is it peer reviewed?”. Rainie introduced findings from a survey by the Pew Research Center in collaboration with the AAAS, asking AAAS member scientists if they should engage with the media. The survey showed that 51% of responders talk to reporters to engage.

But are the experts well-represented in the media? The report’s findings showed that 79% of the AAAS scientists think it’s problematic when news reports don’t distinguish well-founded findings. And 52% thought over-simplification of results reported in news media was a major problem for science. I wonder if these concerns dissuade scientists from engaging?

One of the other panelists, Professor Dominique Brossard from the University of Madison Wisconsin, also surveyed scientists about their views on engagement, looking at how they engage, and the benefits of doing so. Prof Brossard’s pool was researchers at her institution, not AAAS members, and she found a high level of engagement, particularly through social media. Field and context, Prof Brossard says, also play a part in how and why scientists communicate. Her findings showed that 60% of scientists engaged directly with lay audiences, and that those who talk to reporters had higher H-index scores.

Scientists Fault Public Knowledge and Media Reports as Problems for Science

Is it scientists’ role to improve science reporting?

While the panel discussion focused on how scientists communicate amongst themselves and the wider world, one question that naturally arose was: “Whose responsibility is it to increase the accuracy of science reporting, and engage the general public in scientific issues?” Although it is clearly important for scientists and experts to develop good lines of communication with journalists, we also believe we should be equipping the public to better understand and question science reporting in the media, to make sense of it – which Sense About Science does through the Ask for Evidence campaign. The general public is confronted daily with claims about the efficacy of their medical treatment, the benefits of the latest so-called ‘superfood’, or the inevitability of global warming. Some are based on reliable evidence and scientific rigor, but many are not. To hold organizations, companies and individuals accountable, we should always ask for evidence.

Sense About Science believes that scientists have a responsibility to communicate and share their research with the public. It’s not just that doing so can help with funding and career development – sharing your knowledge of the scientific process can benefit a wide range of audiences, enabling them to engage more actively with scientific issues in daily life. It’s what Sense About Science has been working to do in the UK, and, since its formal launch at AAAS, Sense About Science USA will now be taking on there.

When everyone was heading away from the AAAS venue, I chatted at the airport with a Duke University Professor of Medicine about the conference, telling him I worked for Sense About Science and that Sense About Science USA was launching. He told me “it’s so important for the public to know these things so they can make an informed decision”. As information continues to become more accessible and abundant, the importance of being able to identify rigorous, peer-reviewed science from advertising copy or pseudo-science will only increase. That’s why we believe that scientists have a responsibility to help the public to understand the value of the scientific method and its applicability in everyday life. So keep up the good work standing up for science, sharing peer review, and remember to ask for evidence.

    Lorna Berrett
Lorna Berrett
Director  Society & Association Marketing, Wiley

To close our Membership Matters week, Lorna Berrett, Director, Society Marketing at Wiley presents some initial thoughts from society executives on how they might apply the results to their organizations.

A couple of weeks ago we invited our Society Advisory Board (SAB) members to a preview of the Wiley Membership Survey results.  We were especially interested in the SAB members’ feedback, since we want the results to be used by societies to supplement their own research, provide a better understanding of members, and help them make better-informed decisions about their membership offerings.92410894_311515326_311515328_256224451.jpg

Unlike other membership surveys, ours didn’t focus on any one specific discipline or community, nor did it only include members. As Diane Cushman, Executive Director, National Council of Family Relations noted, “We survey our new members, current members and past members, but we don’t survey our “never been members” so that data was very interesting. “

One result that we all found interesting and surprising was that 15% of non-member respondents haven’t joined a society because they haven’t been invited, 12% said that “it never occurred to them to join”, and 9% “never had a reason to join”. In addition, some of the written responses stated they felt they were not qualified to be a member, for example, because they were still students. Some of our Society Advisory Board members are already taking a more active approach to inviting new members to join their association. Helena Djurkovic of the Political Studies Association (PSA) is running a recruitment drive with a personal letter from the PSA Chair and Jonathan Bruun of the British Pharmacological Society (BPS) has run a similar program, with invitations from senior members of the BPS Board to key institutions in their discipline. Sarah Sladek, author of “Knowing Y: Engage the Next Generation Now” claims Millennials are loyal to people rather than institutions, so a personal invitation may resonate more with this group. We will be segmenting our results further in the future to see if our survey bears that out.

Access to the society journal and opportunities for continuing education (CE) and training were the top two member benefits for members and non-members alike, with the journal ranking top for members, while CE was the most valued benefit for non-members. However peer mentoring ranked low on the list for both groups and only 16% of members have participated in a peer mentoring program. This contrasts with the broader category of “expert advice,” which was ranked the fourth most valued benefit for non-members. So, ways to transfer expertise from a society to the community – beyond the reach of publications and conferences – may be worth investigating.

Ed Liebow, Executive Director, American Anthropological Association summed up the response of many SAB members, when he noted that: “I was struck by a number of actionable findings, including the surprising number of non-members who say they haven't joined because they weren't asked (or not asked properly), the reasons for joining (and not joining), and the most valued benefits.”

Cynthia Vlasich, Director, Global Initiatives at The Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International, noted how the research can add to work they have already done: “We have just conducted a member survey and it was intriguing to see where our results ran parallel to these, and also where they diverged.  I believe this information would be very helpful to share with both our membership and marketing staff and also with our staff who are engaged with events and program planning.”

Generally respondents are highly engaged with their society, with 72% actively reading the society’s publications, 58% attending the annual meeting, and 46% visiting the members-only section of the website. Many of the SAB members already have strategies in place for recruiting students and early career members, but they report encountering lapses in membership at key transition points – such as moving from research to a non-academic career. This is reflected in the survey results, which show that membership of a society peaks at between 2-4 years, gradually declining from the fifth to twentieth year, before increasing again when members reach the 20+ year mark. It is a common engagement challenge, and it will be interesting to see if different benefits are valued by those working in industry and professional practice versus those in research roles.

We were pleased with the level of discussion this session generated and to find many of the results striking a chord with our SAB members. Diane Cushman summed up her response as follows: “I went directly from the call to the office of my director of membership and marketing. Your survey was inspiring. I am encouraged by Wiley’s work to support societies and this survey goes a long way to helping me find solutions to our challenges.”  We hope you will feel the same way!

There was, as expected, keen interest in delving deeper into the results by region, age range, and discipline which we will be working on over the coming months, so please check back for future posts on this topic. Meanwhile, please use the Comments section below to let us know your reactions to the Membership Survey results, what you find interesting or surprising, and how you plan to use this information in your society or association.

Image Credit/Source:© Franz Pfluegl 2006 - Fotostudio Pfluegl,

    Sarah Phibbs 
Sarah Phibbs
VP and Journals Publishing Director, Wiley 
Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

As the world’s leading publisher for societies with over 900 membership organization partners, Wiley is in a great position to talk about the formula for a successful “marriage” between publisher and association. My first experience of a partnership agreement was signed in 1996 with the International Organization for Migration. This was a whirlwind romance which took place over a few months but we quickly formed a strong bond and worked out what their journal and organization needed – independence, international authorship and global exposure.   The fun comes from listening, applying your knowledge of the market and devising a strategy accordingly. Some of the ingredients might be the same – frou frou dress, wedding cake, disco – but the Kardashians and the British Royals have very different ideas for their wedding days and their subsequent married lives.

So here are my top 5 tips for a good partnership:


    1. An engaged courtship offers the chance to get to know each other well. Good partnerships can come from an exchange of documents and a cursory email exchange, but the strongest come from time spent together. Ask a potential partner to hold a strategy day with you, so you can discuss long-term plans and meet their technology leaders, and they can show you evidence of what they say.


    1. A great wedding list should match your core objectives up with key services. From traditional one-stop shop support on subscriptions management, typesetting, distribution, and rights to innovative dynamic services such as apps, websites, social media support, career centers, and eLearning. Access to business might also join the list: from user experience testing teams, to peer review management experts, to persona development. Make (reasonable please!) requests as this helps us change and grow.


    1. A shared plan for life together formed from market insights and benchmarks for success; this plan should identify opportunities for growth, whether they be Open Access, new authors from emerging markets, the need to build policy relationships, language services for authors, plans for new products - books, magazines, newsletters - or making a global impact.


    1. Successful extended family relationships means meeting the needs of your Editors, President, Chief Executive, Publications Chair, Communications Officer etc.   What information do they need to take action in their roles? How can we make them successful?


    1. Strong regular communication should run throughout - from day-to-day email exchanges to longer term retreats. Commit time to explaining your needs. Don’t wait until the contract is up to complain, or share your concerns for the future. Equally, please tell us when we are doing well. We need to feel rewarded for a job well done. Our job is to respond and meet your needs. We can find a Managing Editor at short notice, a supplier for your conference app, or a speaker for your conference for early career researchers on publishing with impact. We have probably done it before somewhere around the globe with another partner in another field.   And we might also challenge you to do things differently. Where appropriate, we are encouraging our publishers to challenge the status quo and, with evidence, ensure we are responding to the changing needs of our members, authors, readers, and researchers.


So, the top 5 list is complete. Of these, the most important is #5, “Strong regular communication”- as we all know, that’s the secret to a long and successful relationship – so pick up the phone today!

Three kinds of societies

Posted Mar 25, 2015
    Seth Kahan
Seth Kahan
Founder, Association Transformation

As part of our Membership Matters week, we invited Seth Kahan, author, change agent and founder of Association Transformation, to comment on his experience of working with societies and the different business and membership models he has encountered. 467550612_294448841_294448842_256224451.jpg

Don't forget to dowload our recent Membership Matters whitepaper for the results of our recent membership survey. 

In my work with over 100 association executive directors I have come across three different types of societies. They build on each other, and so represent an evolutionary scale. The first is built on an old-school business model and needs to be updated to one of the other two to remain relevant and vibrant in today's market. Here they are:

1. Transactional

These are the societies whose primary focus is getting a good deal for their members. Their leaders, volunteer and staff, are always on the lookout for products and services their members will pay for. The transactional model has generated everything from the latest, greatest analysis of pertinent policy dispensed in real time to the discount buyer’s club.

As a metaphor, consider a retail outlet, always looking for products to sell that will serve its market. Occasionally a loss-leader is used because it appeals to customers, but on the whole the driving force is gross profit, which is what keeps it alive.

When it comes to volunteer leadership the transaction is this: those members that spend years building their social network inside your organization demand a place at the board as a reflection of their commitment. This worked years ago, but today it undercuts the excellence of your leadership pipeline.

2. Generative

These societies focus on knowledge as a unique differentiator. Leaders of these associations have figured out they can mine the expertise, know-how, and experience of their members, and they can grow it. They have learned to develop the kind of proprietary, unique value that only subject matter experts, thought leaders, policy makers, and influencers can cook up together. They have core expertise, bringing players together in a variety of venues and stimulating the best possible thinking, discussion, agreement, and action.

As a comparison, think of the Brookings Institution, a world-class thinktank. To thrive in the competitive knowledge market, leaders assume an active role in the development of knowledge in their area of expertise. This means going beyond collecting and coordinating; they are expert in listening and responding, catalyzing and growing, analyzing and communicating, convening and asking the tough questions that open up new value in the field.

Generative organizations successfully grow the future by stimulating innovation and doing the due diligence required to ensure value generation. When you activate generative capacity, you see the future before it emerges. You can even speed up its arrival, serving as a treasured catalyst to your members.

3. Scalable

These organizations leverage member knowledge for a seat at other tables. Leaders of these societies actively break down barriers and form partnerships with other major players who can create ever greater and more authentic value. They see their members as agents in a much larger living system that depends on many others who will never join for a wide variety of reasons, but nonetheless play a critical role in amplifying growth.

Scalable impact means taking accountability for becoming a positive force in the world. When this happens, other players invest in the success of the association with their expertise, money, and energy because your success is their success.

An analogy is the World Bank. It could not be effective in 188 countries operating in every major sector simultaneously unless it partnered with other organizations and countries. When it does this well, its partners become invested in the success of the Bank and its programs.

Transactional, generative, scalable - these are three stages in the growth of a mission-driven organization.  Each has its own culture, its own motives, and its own measures of success. Which kind of an organization is yours?

Image Credit/Source:laflor/Getty Images

    Bill Deluise
Bill Deluise
Vice President, Society Strategy & Marketing, Wiley
Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

I can’t recall the date, exactly, but it was around four or five years ago that I let my membership to a professional society lapse. I’m a member of a couple of societies, so it wasn’t like I was left entirely unaffiliated, but I remember this one in particular because, every couple of months, I thought about renewing. The society was great—and still is, I hear. It offers an outstanding annual meeting, its online career and skills development resources are fantastic, and it has a really practical and interesting peer-reviewed journal. The reason I let my membership lapse, though, is almost shameful. Here’s what happened:

It was annual renewal time, and I had the renewal application all set to go. All I needed was a check from our finance department to cover the cost of my membership. The thing is, I had just asked my boss to sign off on an unbudgeted trip that I needed to take to the UK and I was gearing myself up to ask him to approve an unbudgeted technology project. I thought to myself, “well, self, you can’t ask for all three of these things this week alone,” and I decided to leave the application and the check request in a folder on my desk for a week or two so I didn’t come off as a spendthrift.

It sat there for months. Then, I moved to a new office on a different floor, rediscovered the envelope, resolved to renew my membership, and then promptly got distracted by my email. An office-wide clean-up day a few months later led to another rediscovery of the folder and another (soon-to-be-broken) promise to myself to renew. A couple more months went by, and I came across the folder in an enthusiastic but ultimately failed attempt to live a paperless life. The cycle continued, and eventually, I just recycled the whole thing (folder included) rather than admit to myself just how absentminded I can be.

I loved that society. I really valued the benefits that they offered, and I made a couple of great connections during the years that I was an active member. It wasn’t dissatisfaction that kept me from renewing. It was forgetfulness. Or, I guess, in the harshest terms, apathy.

Wiley ran an amazingly wide-ranging survey recently, aimed at helping us discover what people value most from their society or association memberships, and I guess I took some solace in learning that I wasn’t alone in my forgetfulness-slash-apathy. We had almost 14,000 people respond, 26% of whom are not currently society or association members. Among that group of respondents, 11% indicated that they let their membership lapse and 12% of them suggested that it never occurred to them to join a society in the first place. Add in the 12% who indicated that they didn’t know which societies were available in their field and the 15% who indicated that they’ve never been invited to join a society, and you have a full 50% of nonmember respondents who are in a pretty similar boat to the one I’m in. That is, they probably would join, if it occurred to them to, or if the enrollment process were quick and easy, or if life didn’t keep getting in the way.

Now, don’t get me wrong: there were a lot of respondents that seemed to question the value of society or association memberships. Almost one quarter indicated that they were not society members because the cost was too high, 9% responded that they never had a reason to join, 4% indicated that they don’t think there is any value in joining, and 3% suggested that they can get the benefits elsewhere.   But it was the 50% who don’t feel invited, who never thought to look, or who let themselves drift away from society membership that I was most struck by.

On the plus side (kind of), inattentiveness runs both ways: we asked the 69% of respondents who are currently society members why they renew and 9% of that group of respondents indicated that they’ve never thought about not renewing. (For those of you keeping track of the math and wondering how only 69% of respondents indicated that they are society members if 26% indicated that they are not, there were some respondents – 5% – that indicated they were unsure whether they were a member of a society or association.)

If you’re finding yourself lukewarm about the prospect of relying on inattentiveness to drive your membership renewal strategy, great news! What we found out about why people join societies in the first place and why they renew is much more inspiring.

Before anything else, though, I have to acknowledge that the people who were invited to respond to our survey are almost certainly heavily skewed toward the scientific, technical, medical, and scholarly communities (given the type of people we serve with our publications and products). Despite that, we were still pleasantly surprised by how much stock people seemed to put in the quality of the content that a society produces as a primary motivation to initially join. In fact, we asked respondents to think back to when they first joined a society or association and rank the reasons for joining, and the number one reason was the quality of research-based content. Second to that was the prestige of the organization in the field (with conference attendance, certification opportunities, and networking rounding out the top five). Equally as exciting, when asked why they renew, 41% of respondents suggested that feeling connected to the community drove their renewal decisions and 24% reported perceiving good value for the price of membership.

At Wiley, we’re absolutely committed to helping our partner societies and associations engage their communities around high quality content that is advancing science, practice, and scholarship in their fields and disciplines, so it was reassuring to hear through this survey what we hear in conversations with our collaborators and our readers on a daily basis all around the world: that content and community are values we share not just with the leadership of our society and association partners, but with their memberships and the broader communities that they serve.

If you’re interested in hearing more of the findings from our recent society and association membership survey, download a summary of the results here. We’d also love it if you would share some of your own experiences as a society member or a society leader in the comments below. It would be great to keep this conversation going.

In the meantime, though, there’s a society membership that I’ve been meaning to renew, and today is definitely the day to get that taken care of.

    Trina Cody
Trina Cody
Strategic Market Analysis Manager, Wiley

Did you know that 15% of people don’t join societies or associations because they’ve never been invited, or that 72% of society members actively read the society’s publications?  Would you have guessed that the most valued member benefit is a society’s peer-reviewed journal? Or, that the top reason that people join societies is the quality of their research-based content? We confirmed many suspicions and uncovered several surprises with a recent, broad-based society survey we conducted, We therefore thought we’d dedicate this full week on Exchanges to “Membership Matters” a blog series devoted to discussion of the survey results alongside the challenges and opportunities societies face.

BrainstormingLast November, we invited 1.2 million individuals to participate in our online survey to assess their sentiments toward, and satisfaction with, societies and associations. With almost 14,000 respondents,representing 75 research disciplines, and every type of employment setting we reach,Wiley has just completed what may be the largest ever survey of its kind.

We undertook this study as part of our ongoing effort to gain a deeper understanding of the needs of society and association stakeholders so that we can help our society clients develop and execute   their strategies for information and education products and services.

Before explaining the findings in further detail, I must point out the restrictions to our findings: the audience invited to participate in the survey are heavily skewed towards the scientific, technical,medical,and scholarly communities (as these are the communities we primarily serve). Also, this study is intended to be a snapshot in time, and is not meant to represent trends in the market or changes in behavior. Because we plan to repeat this study in future years, we will be able to start to uncover trends and changes over time and we look forward to sharing results with you.

Who Responded?

Our respondents are geographically diverse with more than 170 countries and territories represented. The average respondent is 44 years old, though all four generations are represented with equal proportions of Baby Boomers (born between 1945 and 1965), Generation X (born between 1965 and 1980) and Millennials (born between 1980 and 2000).

They are highly educated; more than 80% have an advanced degree with 37% holding doctoral degrees. University or college is the most popular work setting, however we did hear from many professionals who work in hospitals, corporations, government and nonprofits. More than half of the respondents have more than 10 years of work experience.

The majority of respondents indicated that they have been a member of a society or association in the past 12 months; 26% have not been members. Surprisingly, 5% are unsure if they have been a member.

Why do they join?

We asked the close to 9,800 individuals who identified as society members to rank the top reasons why they joined their organizations in the first place. Interestingly, the top reason is the quality of the society or association’s research-based content, closely followed by the prestige of the organization. The membership requirement to attend the annual meeting, career certification requirements , and networking opportunities round out the top five.

These responses surprised us; most membership studies that we have seen report that networking is the primary reason members join associations. Similarly, when we asked respondents what is the first word that comes to mind when thinking about societies, “networking” was the overwhelming winner.

Why don’t they join?

We asked respondents who identified themselves as non-members why they have not joined a society or association. Almost one quarter said that the cost is too high. This is not surprising; any time cost is a factor, respondents will frequently cite it as a barrier.

What IS surprising is that 15% said they haven’t joined a society because they have never been invited! This is closely followed by “I don’t know what is available in my field” and “It never occurred to me.” These types of responses raise some important questions: Are there misconceptions in the marketplace regarding society eligibility requirements? Are societies placing enough emphasis on outreach?

About 10% of the respondents didn’t identify with the options we provided and wrote in their own responses. An interesting point here: many write-ins identified themselves as students without enough time or adequate credentials to be society members.. It’s puzzling when you consider that we hear again and again from our society partners that they are actively recruiting students and early career researchers, yet at the same time these individuals do not feel as though they qualify for membership.

What do they value?

Members and nonmembers alike highly value societies’ peer-reviewed journals and opportunities for continuing education. Whereas members value the peer-reviewed journal first and continuing education second, the order swaps for nonmembers. Interestingly, both members and nonmembers indicated that they value membership magazines third.

After the top three benefits, there was more variance in the responses of members vs. nonmembers.While members value standards, guidelines and reference guides, and live events, nonmembers value expert advice from professionals in their fields and opportunities for leadership experience.

Surprisingly, the least valued benefits are the same for members and nonmembers. Newsletters, peer mentoring (both as a mentor or mentoree), salary benchmarking, local chapters and member discounts all ranked lowest among the 16 identified typical activities and resources provided by societies and associations.

For more on the survey, view an infographic of results and download the membership survey whitepaper.

What do you value as a society member? Do these results surprise you? Tweet us @WileySocieties or share a comment below.

Image Credit/Source:exchanges.wiley.com//uploads/2015/03/people-at-conference.jpg



    Sarah Blackford
Sarah Blackford
Sarah Blackford, Career Advisor

Planning your career could be considered to be a contradiction in terms. How can you plan something which is largely out of your control? How can you predict whether and when a job will be advertised by an employer, or influence where it will be located? Furthermore, how can you plan for a career, if you’re not sure in which direction you want to go?

Researchers are finding themselves in an increasingly competitive job market. Finding the right position can be difficult, especially if you are an early career researcher, so having a career plan could make all the difference.

There is no right or wrong way to plan your career, but there are theories which offer strategies to enhance your chances of success. Two of those theories have stood the test of time and are used frequently by professional careers advisers: the DOTS Model cites four factors that are considered to be fundamental to a structured career planning process: Decision-making, Opportunities, Transition and Self-knowledge, while Planned Happenstance is founded on the premise that behaviors, such as being positive, flexible, curious and willing to take a risk, allow unpredictable situations (or luck) to be harnessed.


Source: Sarah Blackford
Source: Sarah Blackford


















Let’s focus in on some of the main factors from these two theories, which play a key role in the career planning process:

1. Know yourself

The job application and interview process is a highly personalized procedure. It requires you to articulate what exactly you will bring to the job and the organization. You’ll usually be asked to summarize and match your knowledge, skills and personal capabilities to the position, and frequently you’ll be asked more searching questions such as ‘’What are your main strengths and weaknesses?’’ or ‘’What’s your greatest achievement and why?’’ Self-awareness will not only help you to answer these questions and make a good impression during the application and interview process, it will also help you to recognize which types of careers, and roles might be best suited to you. Once you’re able to define yourself in terms of your personality, skills, interests and values, as well as taking account of other personal and social factors, you will be able to take a more strategic approach to planning your career. Researching careers and reading job descriptions will provide clues as to whether particular jobs match up to your preferences (although, of course, it’s unlikely that a job will match up 100%) and seeking guidance from a professional career advisor can also help you with your decision-making process.

2. Be brave and confident (even if you don’t feel it)

Many people, when reflecting on their own career paths, mention something related to ‘luck’. For example, “I just happened to be in the right place at the right time”, or “I bumped into someone who knew someone who happened to have an opening just at the right time”. These so-called lucky moments can act as a turning point in many people’s careers. However, the truth is they are rarely a product of luck; they are often the result of someone being proactive and getting involved. This might mean attending a conference, approaching a potential new supervisor/employer or volunteering to take on some new responsibility. Taking a risk, coming out of your comfort zone or trying out something new all require some degree of proactive behavior. It can feel daunting, but people are usually kind and helpful towards those they see as making an effort to help themselves. If you opt to stay in your ‘safety area’ you are less likely to create opportunities for yourself.

3. Market yourself appropriately

Employers sometimes despair at the poor applications they receive from applicants. Potentially excellent candidates are hidden from view by untargeted resumes, misspelling and bad grammar, generic cover letters and other basic, avoidable mistakes. Marketing yourself on paper, online, or in an email to someone you have never met is a difficult task, but if you get it right you will stand out above your competitors. Rarely will an employer take the risk of bringing a new person into their organization without having met them, so interview performance can also be crucial for those who manage to conquer the application process. Communication is fundamental to the majority of jobs, so if you don’t demonstrate these skills in your resume or at an interview, it will throw doubt on your ability to communicate well in the job itself. Presenting yourself effectively, precisely and relevantly to the employer, whether you have met him/her previously or not, will give the impression that you have researched the job, organization, research group, department, etc. and have demonstrated clearly what you will bring (over and above) to fill the gap in their current expertise or service provision.

4. Build your network

Reading about the career paths of others with a similar background and qualifications to yourself can sometimes help you to identify the types of careers you might enjoy and could consider as a serious option. You can learn about challenges they might have had to face, what influenced them in their decisions or how they overcame barriers and took advantage of situations, courses, networking opportunities and other relevant resources. Career events, alumni visits, or online videos and scripted case studies can all deliver this type of support and advice. University and social networks, such as LinkedIn and Twitter, as well as more specialized academic platforms, e.g. Researchgate, also provide a rich source of contacts, some of whom are willing to give advice, mentor or even offer work-shadowing and volunteering opportunities. Work is people; previous and current colleagues and employers, secondary, tertiary and more remote contacts are all potentially able to add value to your career planning process. So make sure you cultivate a healthy network of people – you never know when you may bump into someone, in person or virtually, who could help you advance your career!

For more information and advice on planning your research career, see Sarah Blackford’s book, ‘Career Planning for Research Bioscientists’.

4 tips for planning your career.PNG

    Greta Boonen
Greta Boonen
Associate Director of Market Development and Agent Relations, Wiley

I recently had the privilege of co-hosting a panel discussion with Chris Banks from Imperial College London at the Annual ASA conference  which brought together both early career researchers and librarians. These young professionals shared some of the issues they face-as well as their viewpoints on what would make collaboration easier.This resulted in a lively conversation, so we thought we’d ask them to reflect on the discussion here.shutterstock_196378274_292295826_292295827_256224451 (1).jpg

Chris Banks, Panel Co-host and Director of Library Services, Central Library, Imperial College London:

Wiley’s Greta Boonen had the idea of bringing together early career researchers and young librarians with a request that they focus on their “pain points” in order to stimulate discussion. One of the presentations on day one set the scene nicely – the contribution by Monica Garcia Alloza. Monica described the tortuous process of getting from research to publication. With the heavily policy-driven open access agenda in the UK, I instantly understood why such “policy interventions” risk coming across to academics as the last straw in an already complex process. What interested me about our panel, particularly the two ECRs, is the mixed messaging that they get from departments/supervisors and from funders: on the one hand their funders may mandate publishing open access and yet on the other, publication in high impact journals is still perceived as key for progression. Open Access publishing can be quick, and therefore accrue citations quickly, but publishing in elite journals is coveted and still key to advancement. One of the organizers whispered in my ear afterwards “those two early career researchers made the most persuasive case for Open Access Publishing that I’ve ever heard”. I find myself asking “if we were inventing scholarly communications today, would we do it like this?”

Patricia Garcez, Panelist, Post-doc and soon-to-be Professor, Laboratório de Neuroplasticidade, Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro:

As a final year postdoc, you can imagine how easy it was to discuss the challenges we face daily with respect to: how to publish quickly, how to get recognition as a peer-reviewer, and the dilemma of striving to get published in a high-impact publication while publishing fast enough to meet the fellowship funding time restrictions. We also talked about the role of editors, the advantages of open access, the role of co- authors in a manuscript and how publishers can help the early career scientist (ECS). This last topic really resonated with me because I believe that the quality of science would improve if early career scientists had more opportunities to visit and collaborate with colleagues abroad or to attend international meetings. Publishers could assist this process by promoting mobility grants for this purpose. This session provided a unique opportunity to interact and exchange perspectives with various professionals from the world of scholarly communications such as librarians and publishers. It feels good to be part of a broad community that ultimately shares the same goal: to promote quality and the advancement of science.

Gavin Phillips, Panelist and Principal Library Assistant (Acquisitions and Metadata) at Imperial College, London:

As a librarian dealing with e-books, and particularly non-subscription e-books, the world of publishing looks incredibly complex with a lack of easily manageable information. For those titles that can be licensed institutionally, there are a plethora of considerations relating to platforms, formats, accessibility, pricing models, and the dreaded Digital Rights Management. Alarming increases in price or decreases in functionality then create a need for reconsideration at surprising intervals. Add to this the fact that there is no single place to find all (or even most) of this information! The result, in addition to dissatisfied library users, is that the expertise to navigate this landscape often resides in the head of a single member of library staff who then needs to constantly update that knowledge.

The obvious way to attempt to address this is to increase engagement between librarians and publishers but that is easier said than done. The onus shouldn’t necessarily be on publishers to achieve this and perhaps librarians need to work collaboratively to represent their users with a single, louder voice.

The possible answers might be as complex as the question but could there be a role here for intermediaries to make sense of it all? To what degree could the extra cost to the library be offset against more efficient acquisition processes? Most importantly, would this add value for libraries by better enabling acquisitions teams to source the best content for users?

Dave Daversa, Panelist and PhD Candidate, Evolutionary Ecology Group, University of Cambridge Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London:

To an early career researcher like myself, the relationship between scientists and the publishers of their work can appear either one-sided or non-existent. We can feel at the mercy of publishers for professional rises in status. Yet, the ASA conference changed my perspective on the scientist-publisher relationship. I felt I was on equal ground, as publishers reached out to me with genuine interest in understanding the challenges young researchers face. Publishers are providing us researchers with a valuable service. I became enlightened of a capacity to influence how these services are provided so that productivity is maximized.

This conference also introduced me to a strong group of concerned librarians. Once again, the relationship that we researchers expect to have with our librarians is minimal, particularly in the process of publishing. This conference also demonstrated that libraries have the potential to play an active role in the publishing process.

We are experiencing a time of transition in the world of scholarly publications. Open access is on the rise, budgets are becoming constrained, and publishing demand is ever-increasing. Academic researchers, publishing agents, and library systems are all directly affected by this change. To ensure that this transition proceeds in a positive direction, each of these stakeholders must strengthen their relationships with one another. Open lines of communication must be perpetually maintained. This year’s ASA meeting embodied this practice. The progress that was achieved at the meeting illustrates the power of the interdisciplinary exchange of ideas.

Klara Finnimore, Panelist and Subscriptions and Access Officer, Library Services, King’s College London

I chose to raise some points that are pertinent to the daily work for my team, and although they were not necessarily all unknown issues, I felt it was important to acknowledge that the publishing and subscription agent community would still benefit from being reminded of some common issues. These include the continuing need to push for off-campus authentification and simplification of the user journey. Users want to be able to access content from anywhere and they don’t expect a different service whether they are on or off campus. Anything publishers or librarians can do to help achieve this goal of seamless access is very valuable. Additionally, I touched upon the need for user-friendly mobile access, and clarity over what is accessible in open access and hybrid open access journals.

I learned a lot from participating in the session, not least of which was the value of encouraging open communication between different sections of the scholarly community.  I also gained an insight into the needs of researchers which helps me in my role as a librarian; and I enjoyed making new connections within my industry.

Many thanks to our panelists for their contributions!

Patricia and Dave are members of  Wiley Advisors, a program for early career researchers and professionals to serve as a voice for their communities. For more information, please visit Wiley Advisors online or on twitter @WileyAdvisors.

Image Credit/Source:Rawpixel/Shutterstock

    Anne-Marie Green 
Anne-Marie Green
Communication Manager, Wiley 

Yesterday Wiley announced a new pilot program with Publons, a new peer review information tool which produces comprehensive reviewer profiles with publisher-verified peer reviews, allowing reviewers to get credit for their reviews.  We recently spoke with Publons co-founder Andrew Preston about how Publons got started, what it does, and how it’s been received thus far.


Andrew Preston of Publons Source: Andrew Preston
Andrew Preston of Publons
Source: Andrew Preston

Q. Can you tell us a little about your background and how Publons came about?

A. I was finishing up a postdoc role at Boston University and it was time to decide 'what next'. I love doing science, but academic life can be frustrating at times. A lot of the things we consider normal in this industry seem crazy to outsiders.

At the same time, my Publons co-founder Daniel and I had been dreaming up startup ideas together since we were 10. This one was an intersection between a pressing problem and a real opportunity to have a meaningful impact on the world. So we dived in, learned an awful lot about the academic publishing industry, and the idea evolved into what Publons is today.

I think the critical point leading us to peer review in particular was learning that of the 150 days (on average) it takes to publish a paper, 120 of them are spent in peer review. We figured that we could speed up science by focusing on that problem.

Q. What is Publons and how is it “speeding up science”?

A. Our mission is to speed up science by providing a range of tools and services to reviewers, editors, and publishers that improve the peer review process. That starts with giving reviewers credit for peer review, in the form of a verified reviewer profile (example below) that can be used in performance evaluations etc.




Reviewers have told us they respond to editors' peer review requests quicker, are more willing to review, and offer more constructive feedback knowing they’re going to get credit for it on Publons. That’s the immediate impact on the speed of science that we love to see.

We also work with editors and publishers to help reward their reviewers, to verify and showcase their journals' peer review processes, to identify peer review fraud, and to aid them in finding expert reviewers.

Q. What does Publons offer reviewers?

A. The main thing that motivates reviewers is getting credit that they can put on their CVs and include in performance evaluations. But many reviewers also use Publons to publish their reviews, write post-publication reviews, and discuss the reviews and research of others. Some early career researchers also browse the reviews on Publons as a way to learn how to perform their own reviews.

As a bit of fun, we also run a rewards program, where each quarter the three most prolific reviewers receive a rewards package valued at over $3,000.

Q. What has the reaction from authors been? Is there any hesitancy on the part of authors to have reviews of their papers open to the public?

A. It’s important to note that only a small fraction of the reviews on Publons are published. Many reviewers elect for their reviews to remain blind and unpublished. Behind the scenes we work with publishers and editors to verify these reviews -- with the Wiley partnership we’re able to formalize and automate the verification, which is one of the reasons we’re so excited about it.

With regards to published reviews, it’s a new thing, so there is occasional apprehension -- but this is usually by editors or publishers concerned about how authors might react, rather than apprehension from the authors themselves. To date, no author has ever requested a review of his/her article to be taken down.

Transparency can be scary, but it has its advantages too. When you think about it, most authors would be quite pleased if an expert took the time to read and discuss their publications. This is why we only allow reviewers to publish reviews after the manuscript has been published. Our sample is likely biased since most of the authors we converse with are reviewers on Publons, but many authors are happy to have their experiences with reviewers out in the open for anyone to see and respond.

Another advantage of having the reviews of your articles on Publons is the boost to the readership and Altmetric score of the article (since we integrate directly with Altmetric).

Q. Publons has a scoring system. How does that work?

A. We use reviewer “merit” as a quick indicator of review expertise. Each review is awarded a base merit of 1 with additional merit points awarded for being verified by the editor/journal, for being published, and (if published) for receiving endorsements from other reviewers. A reviewer’s merit is simply the sum of all his/her review merit points.

Q. What does Publons offer to journal editors?

A. One of the biggest things we’ve learned is just how important the role of an academic editor is in organizing and monitoring the peer review process, so we’ve devoted a lot of time in recent months to learning a lot about that process and developing tools to help editors to better perform this vital role.

Obviously we provide editors with a way to formally recognize their reviewers, but we’ve also developed two tools to help editors to:


    • Search for and contact reviewers; and


    • Screen author-provided reviewer suggestions to ensure they are legitimate and suitable peer reviewers.


This is all part of our mission to speed up science. By the way, we also provide a way for editors to get credit for their editorial work.

Q. Who uses Publons?

A. If you browse our top reviewer list you’ll see researchers from most countries and universities around the world. Lots of early career researchers are also using Publons as a way to build their reputations with the journals and editors in their areas of expertise.

The reviews are for thousands of different journals. The majority are STEM titles but lately we’ve started to see a few more reviews from the social sciences. Reviewers are adding more than 1,000 reviews each week so the variety is growing quickly.

Q. Why did you decide to partner with Wiley?

A. A great deal of Wiley reviewers are already using Publons so this partnership seemed like an excellent way to make the process of getting credit for their reviews even easier. Working together also makes it possible to give other Wiley reviewers (who might not be aware of Publons) credit for the first time.

We also saw that Wiley has shown a willingness to experiment with new things (like Altmetric.com) and it has turned out to be a pleasure to develop this pilot with the team there.

Thanks Andrew.

    Lena Jacobsen and Martin Vinding
Lena Jacobsen and Martin Vinding
Journals Publishing, Wiley
Participants listen to presenations at Copenhagen Executive Seminar Source: Lena Jacobsen/Wiley
Participants listen to presenations at Copenhagen Executive Seminar
Source: Lena Jacobsen/Wiley

This past January, Wiley hosted an Executive Seminar in Copenhagen where society and association representatives met for discussions and presentations on the future of publishing. The theme of the seminar was ‘The Next Big Thing’ and attendees joined us from across Europe representing the health, life and social sciences. With this diverse group of attendees, it truly set the stage for interesting discussion from varied perspectives.


We were glad to see that the attendees took advantage of the opportunity to ask questions directly to Wiley Directors or VPs within Professional Innovation, Society & Association Marketing, Publishing Solutions and Communications. There were a few themes of great interest to attendees, so we thought we’d reflect on them here.


1. How can societies most effectively use social media?

As this recent blog post can attest, how societies use and leverage social media is of great interest and, not surprisingly, was one of the most popular topics at the seminar. This type of media provides a space for journal editors or societies to reach and interact with a wider audience and engage a community of readers. With that in mind, it may be beneficial for societies/associations to form a social media strategy, deciding which channels to focus on and allowing them to continually evaluate efforts compared to output (retweets, shared content, comments etc.). Several attendees expressed a need to communicate more effectively with young researchers and inform them of their society/association/journal. Social media, when used carefully and strategically, can help societies reach readers, members or peers and increase the visibility of theirjournals. Altmetrics can also be used as a measure of social media outreach, to estimate impact and evaluate promotional efforts.

2. What are the open access publishing options available to societies?

Open access has changed rapidly over the past 15 years and some societies and associations are exploring how to adjust to this dynamic environment. Should they change their publishing format to open access? Or, do they need to introduce society repositories to meet open access mandates? At the seminar, we discussed some of the options available to societies to help them meet current mandates. There is the Hybrid/OnlineOpen option, ‘flipping’ a subscription journal to open access, launching a new open access journal and introducing self-archiving policies.

If a society/association is considering launching a new open access journal, it is important to:


    • Perform a reject analysis for a journal to make sure that there is enough material


    • Consider if supporter journals are needed to refer papers


    • Explore if there is a gap in the market for open access journals within the field


We also discussed the important role that societies and associations play in setting data policies and data archival standards. There was great interest in more in-depth information on open access, thus Wiley is looking into hosting a webinar on this subject.


Lunch and discussion at the seminar. Source: Lena Jacobsen/Wiley
Lunch and discussion at the seminar.
Source: Lena Jacobsen/Wiley

3. Know your members!

It’s no secret that many societies and associations are struggling with decreasing membership numbers. We’ve also found that some have not actively been involved in recruiting members. The responses from attendees at the seminar confirmed these concerns. However, there are several steps which societies can take to counter this trend. Two of these steps are: 1. understand your member value proposition and 2. properly segment members in order to deploy targeted communications. We suggest looking into the demographic, geographic and psychographic profiles of your members to determine different member profiles. For instance, societies can segment members based upon experience, industry, motivation, career progression, etc., and they can then use these segments to target communications through various channels, including social media.

4. New technology needs to be easy

The vast array of new technologies available for authors can at times be overwhelming, or as one attendee put it, “there is too much bad technology out there”. It can be difficult to find the program that fulfills the needs of both authors or readers. And, at a bare minimum, the technology should be easy to use! Focusing on readability and functionality, Wiley’s Anywhere Article allows readers to browse figures, links to references/citing literature and more on the device of their choice. Additionally, the open access movement has increased the number of open source software that, for instance, helps authors collaborate on projects and papers online or enables researchers to highlight and annotate webpages and online PDFs, as with Readcube. The digital transformation in the publishing industry brings some great new tools for scientific writing and we found that there was an interest in exploring ways to simplify workflows among our attendees.

5. Identify and keep ahead of the next set of challenges.

We heard from attendees that we must continue to rethink workflows and develop new creative formats and solutions for the journals we publish on behalf of societies and associations. The rapid pace of change is unlikely to slow down anytime soon and it is important that Wiley continues to support authors, readers, societies/associations and libraries. Hearing from our publishing partners at Wiley’s Executive Seminars is so valuable because it helps us to find innovative solutions to current and future challenges.

Thank you to everyone who participated in Copenhagen!

    Andrew Moore 
Andrew Moore
Editor-in-Chief Bioessays and Inside the Cell 

In his recent post on the editor’s view of peer review best practice, Brian Johnson highlighted the importance of prompt responses to review invitations – particularly if the reviewer is not able to undertake the review.  In today’s post, Andrew Moore, Editor-in-Chief of BioEssays and Inside the Cell explores the decision to decline a review request in more detail. Today we’re all about saying “no”.


Source: iStock/Thinkstock
Source: iStock/Thinkstock

The “when” is easy: Do this, as soon as you have established that you cannot perform the review on time, or are not scientifically (or otherwise – see later) suitable to assess the manuscript: editors are exceedingly grateful for quick declines. Most editorial offices don’t invite a large excess of reviewers in the first instance, preferring to re-visit the record at short intervals and invite one or two more reviewers as necessary: this avoids “burning” reviewers unnecessarily. So don’t keep the editor hanging on unnecessarily. The request to review usually only contains the manuscript title and abstract, so there is not much reading to be done before deciding not to review. And yet, my experience in editorial suggests that this is not such an easy decision to get right after all.

And so to the “why”:

1. No time to spare

If you genuinely don’t have enough time to review, you must decline. This innocent question opens out into one of the most contentious matters in contemporary peer review and whether/how such a service can be formally recognized: peer review is a major burden, and nobody, it seems, really has the time. Hence the questions to your self should be “Am I prepared to make time to review this piece? And am I disciplined enough to stick to the deadline?” But clearly that isn’t so easy to judge, because we regularly have reviewers who string out the process despite reminders, and even despite their own reassurances to editorial that they “will submit by the end of the week”, for example. If your intentions are noble, it is better to bow out early if you really can’t manage it – much better than introducing a large delay in the overall peer review process, which creates a bad reputation for you; indeed, it can even arouse suspicion in the editor and/or author(s) that you actively wish to delay publication of the work. In more than one case, one of my authors has even correctly guessed the identity of the delaying reviewer and noted the situation of competition with that research group. In cases of unusually long peer review delay, conscientious editorial staff will inform authors (if they haven’t themselves asked before that point) about the status of peer review.

2. Knowing what you don’t know

The other, equally unproductive, outcome of peer review is a report that damns the work in question for unjustifiable reasons. In some cases, this can arise out of a desire to rubbish fellow scientists – which is, of course, not very noble if the peer review is anonymous; but more often it comes from being unaware of one’s own lack of knowledge in a particular area. Being aware of what we don’t know – i.e. so-called metacognition – is not so straightforward, and seems to be a significant factor in sub-optimal peer review, as observed by Sui Huang in a BioEssays Editorial. So, think carefully: do you know what you don’t know in the field in question? Is that “don’t-know-area” large? Then perhaps you shouldn’t review this manuscript, even if you think you know quite a lot.

3. Conflict of interest

Another clear reason for not agreeing to review is if you have a conflict of interest- either positive or negative. Perhaps you are not directly associated with the publication record of the author(s), but you have a close professional connexion all the same: or, you have been asked to read a pre-submission draft of the manuscript. Most editors check potential reviewers against the acknowledgements, but occasional oversights are only human, and sometimes a pre-submission reader is not acknowledged.

Finally to the “how”. This also seems very simple: just reply on time saying that you can’t do the review, and if you know someone who would be suitable, scientifically, please let editorial know :-) Should you also give an opinion on the paper that you are declining to review? Some do. That typically depends on the reason for which you are declining to review. If you truly know the field very well, and do not have the time to review, you might well be justified in giving an opinion, and it might help editorial, particularly if it proves extremely difficult to get any reviewer to bite. However, a thorough, real, peer review is enormously more valuable than a quick comment over email. So, think carefully: if you really have something important to say and you think that it’s worth giving criticism with a constructive aim, you should probably agree instead, and try your best to make time for the review.

    Elaine Musgrave
Elaine Musgrave
Senior Manager, Educational Products, Wiley

In part one, we recommended some strategies for you to get you started on developing your eLearning platform solution. And, in part two, we looked at how to begin a requirements mapping exercise. Today, in our final installment in this series, we recommend some strategies to adopt and questions to consider when talking to potential technology providers.shutterstock_166288013_292286635_292286636_256224451.jpg

Embrace the role of technology greenhorn

Buzzwords and acronyms abound in the eLearning environment. LMS versus LCMS? Gamification? What about “blended learning”? The vocabulary may at times seem overwhelming, and, sure, it’s nice if in your research you pick up some words that make the conversation with potential providers more efficient, but don’t get hung up on the words themselves or allow an acronym-happy provider to confuse you with a long list of capital letters. You don’t need a degree in computer science to have an intelligent conversation with technology providers about what you need your eLearning platform to do. Navigate the technical jargon by keeping your eyes resolutely focused on the experience of the user; even if you think you know what the techies are talking about, it never hurts to ask for clarification. Staying focused on the user experience that results from a particular functionality, rather than the specific name of a functionality, will help ensure you get the features and user interface you want or, at the very least, some clarity about the limitations of that functionality.

So, go ahead and assume the persona of someone who goes online once a year. It’s okay to slow down the conversation, haggle over the details, and convince the computer programmers that you are totally ignorant about the technological advancements of the past decade. Spell out in painful specificity your desired user experience, and the technology provider you’re talking to will need to acknowledge the cost, the effort, and the development timeframe to achieve the experience you want.

Get everything you want in writing

During the requirements-gathering stage, we said, “Write it down.” That principle is equally important at the stage where you’re evaluating technology providers and, when you have selected your provider, negotiating a contract with that organization. Remember, however many times you talked about it, if something is not specifically spelled out in the contract, the chances of it happening are remote. If you have been updating your requirements documentation along the way to reflect the realities of the technology your provider can give you, that document should now be in pretty good shape to be attached as an appendix to the contract itself.

Consider the fine print

The requirements of your eLearning platform are unique to your organization and its members. No generic advice column is going to give you a ready-made list of all the questions you should be sure to ask before signing on with a chosen technology provider, and, if you’ve done your research and analysis, you (or your consultant) know your requirements better than anyone else. That said, here are a few things you’ll want to make sure you know when evaluating providers and that you’ll want to specify when drafting your contract with the provider you’ve selected:


    • Who owns what?


    • Who does what?


    • When the platform is live, who manages customer support, technical and otherwise?


    • How much training on the provider’s system is provided within the agreed-upon financial terms?


    • What are the options for branding?


    • How will users’ data be secured?


    • What is the provider’s strategy for housing and backing up data?


    • What’s the provider’s policy on platform outages?


    • What’s the provider’s policy about platform improvements?


    • When you ask about specific functionality, do you get a clear and confident response (whether in the affirmative or the negative)?


    • What would happen if you needed to export your content from your chosen provider’s platform to another?


    • What are the components that contribute to the final quoted cost of the platform? Are there extras for which you could be charged more?


We hope you’ve found this series useful and would love to hear about your experiences with building eLearning solutions. Tweet us @WileySocieties or feel free to comment below.

Image Credit/Source:Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock

    Ryan Watkins 
Ryan Watkins
George Washington University 
Source: 5xinc/Thinkstock
Source: 5xinc/Thinkstock

As belts tighten on federal and foundation funding for research in the US and elsewhere, scientists are increasingly looking to Internet-based crowdfunding to financially support their research. In a webinar hosted by AAAS in February 2013, Dr. Ethan Perlstein described how he was able to raise $25,000 for his research on lysosomal storage diseases. Obviously not all crowdfunding campaigns are this successful, nor do many have to be. Crowdfunding can help support doctoral students just as it can support the research of their professors. Likewise, from sociologist to psychologist and chemist to marine biologist, many different types of research can lead to successful crowdfunding opportunities.

Crowdfunding research can act as a tool for building bridges between researchers and society. It offers new opportunities for the general public to engage with scientists. Crowdfunding is obviously not for every researcher or research study. Some topics naturally make it easier to raise funds from the general public than others. Research on issues such as climate change, for example, can often capture the attention of the public more easily than, let’s say, a study on the food consumption of milky snails. Nevertheless, if presented the right way, many (if not most) research can find ways to capture the attention, and potentially the generosity, of targeted audiences, if not the general public.

If you are considering crowdfunding as an option to financially support your research, there are two primary sites that can help. These sites have different goals and support crowdfunding in different ways, so you may want to consider your options before diving into the world of crowdfunded research.

Thinkable.org is a subscription-crowdfunding model focusing on the researcher rather than any specific research study. Founded by Ben McNeil, an oceanographer at the University of New South Wales, the site is based on the “patron” approach to science. Thinkable.org therefore uses a monthly contribution model where sponsors pledge usually small monthly donations of $5 or more. In return, funded researchers engage with their sponsors by posting videos and blogs about their research, allowing sponsorsto learn about the latest knowledge in the field. Videos can update sponsors on the progress of a study, or they can be mini-learning modules that offer technical background on the topic.

With the patron model, no specific funding goal or funding period is required to begin building a Thinkable.org research profile, and the relationship with funders is expected to last over several years as the research program matures. Thinkable.org does charge a 10% fee on donations to support the platform.

A second crowdfunding option is Experiment.com. The site was created after the founders, all researchers themselves, saw too many great research projects never happen due to limited funding options. They founded Experiment.com to facilitate the funding of specific research studies. For example, you can currently donate to a project that will take digital images of the coral reefs off the coast of Easter Island or a study of how cockroaches can help us cure tularemia.

With Experiment.com you must raise the full amount of funding that you set as the goal, otherwise no pledges are collected or paid out. The rationale for this is that a specific research study should have a defined budget, without which the research is not able to achieve its goals. Therefore, if you can’t raise that amount then the research should not go forward in its current form. The only fee is the 8% Experiment platform fee if your project is successful in meeting its fundraising goal.

Petridish.org is a third popular crowdfunding site for research. Like Experiment.com, Petridish.org is a for-profit business that uses an “all or nothing” approach to funding. Where it differs is that Petridish.org encourages research to offer “rewards” to funders (such as souvenirs from the field, t-shirts, naming rights, or even field visits). Petridish is not, however,accepting new research submissions at this time.

Other options such as Kickstarter or IndieGoGo also provide platforms for crowdfunding a variety of activities -- from starting new companies to studio time for rock bands. Though these sites are not limited to crowdfunding scientific research, they do have large, well-established audiences. You should therefore consider which crowdfunding site is most likely to find audiences that will be highly interested in your research. For example, if your research topic is naturally of interest to the general public, then a Kickstarter campaign might help you reach that audience, whereas if your research is primarilyof interest to a smaller (yet possibly more likely to donate) community then Thinkable.org or Experiment.com might be the better choice.

Up to this point, there is little information on how universities and other institutions manage crowdfunded resources. If you are going to crowdfund your research, it is best to meet with your institution’s staff to discuss the funding and its implications. From overhead rates to how funds can actually be deposited into your research accounts could take some time to negotiate so planning early is important.

    Alice Meadows 
Alice Meadows
Director of Communications 
Source: Royal Society Publishing
Source: Royal Society Publishing

As you may already know, today marks the 350th anniversary of the first publication of a scholarly journal.  That journal was Philosophical Transactions, edited by Henry Oldenburg, and published then, as now, by the Royal Society.  The motto for the Royal Society is "Nullius in verba” (i.e. Take nobody’s word for it), which seems like a good enough reason to start a journal.  According to the Royal Society's website, Philosophical Transactions "pioneered the concepts of scientific priority and peer review which, together with archiving and dissemination, provide the model for almost 30,000 scientific journals today." But, given how much change is now happening in the world of scholarly communication, we wondered:

Why has the journal endured as a form of scholarly communication and will it continue to thrive?

We put that question to some Exchanges contributors with close ties to the world of scholarly publishing.  Here's what they told us:



Source: Zoe Cournia

In their 350-year-old history, scholarly journals have served as the major channels for introducing and presenting new research and criticizing existing research. The purpose of an academic journal, according to the first editor of the world's oldest academic journal, Henry Oldenburg, is to give researchers a forum to "impart their knowledge to one another, and contribute what they can to the Grand design of improving natural knowledge, and perfecting all Philosophical Arts, and Sciences." Academic journals have managed to disseminate validated scientific information through the years, which is achieved owing to the systematic peer review process they have adopted, which ensures that the information they publish has undergone significant scrutiny. Today's scholarly journals have efficiently adapted to modern communication channels such as the internet and social media, allowing worldwide access to high quality scientific information accessible even at modest budgets. These scientific forums have continued to grow over the years and nowadays they are found at the top of the science pyramid; in fact a researcher's career and achievements are rated by assessing the number, quality, and citations of publications as the fundamental metric. It is actually difficult, if not impossible to imagine an academic world without scholarly journals!

Dr. Zoe Cournia is a Wiley Advisor and Investigator at the Biomedical Research Foundation of the Academy of Athens, Greece



Source: Robert Dingwall
Source: Robert Dingwall

The academic journal is a highly evolved mode of scientific communication. Although its material form has changed drastically – and print versions seem unlikely to survive except for archival purposes – the symbolic value of its branding continues. In a world flooded with content, the journal brand signals the quality, relevance and importance of the papers to which it is applied. As such, it constrains the search costs to readers of finding and evaluating content, both in their own research niche and, in particular, in maintaining broader contextual knowledge of a discipline or field of study. These functions become even more critical as less selective outlets proliferate and new discovery tools generate an increasing volume of possible reading. Journal branding helps to dam the torrent to a rate that leaves space for a scholar’s own research - and for a life outside the lab or the library!

Robert Dingwall is a sociologist based in the UK. He has had a long association with the journal Sociology of Health & Illness and is the Editor of Symbolic Interaction.



Source: Hans-Georg Weinig
Source: Hans-Georg Weinig

Scientific journals are key elements for the exchange and communication within and between the disciplines. One can say that journals are the Holy Grail for global scientific knowledge. Therefore, we have to demand and ensure the highest quality standards for authors and readers through professional processing of submissions and a fair and high level review process. Regardless of preferring printed journals, electronic papers, or other future publication models, and regardless of having subscription or open access models, we have to guarantee that the existing and newly created knowledge will be available from reliable and sustainable sources for our successors in the next 350 years.

Dr. Hans-Georg Weinig is Director of Education and Science for the Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker (GDCh, German Chemical Society)



Source: Elizabeth Lorbeer
Source: Elizabeth Lorbeer

Scholarly writing allows us to elevate our everyday conversations about our surroundings and existence. It infuses our daily discussions and thought processes with source-based defense and peer-supported arguments, coupled with logic, inquiry and rhetoric. The journal is an important component of how members of the academy exchange ideas. It is the apex of our written academic language and pushes us to strive for those heights in our thinking, methodology, analysis and argument. And, we will always need that in the academy. The secret to its longevity is that its form can evolve and adapt to meet the ever-changing needs of the academic culture. 

Elizabeth R. Lorbeer is Director of Library Services at Western Michigan University School of Medicine, USA

How would you answer the same question?  Let us know in the comments below or tweet @WileyExchanges.

Patrick O'Connor
Patrick O'Connor
Author, Writing Scientific Research Articles: Strategy and Steps             
Margaret Cargill
Margaret Cargill
Author, Writing Scientific Research Articles: Strategy and Steps

Journal editors and reviewers are looking for novelty, significance and relevance to their readers when they read your submitted article. Your abstract can make claims about these features, but does not provide space for the evidence to back them up. The introduction is the place for that. Guidelines for selecting, ordering and presenting that evidence effectively are available from the results of research in the field of Applied Linguistics (AL) over the past 25 years. Here we present a summary designed for ease of use by authors.

6 ‘stages’ in developing your argument in an introduction

Yes, you are writing an argument. Your aim is to convince your reader that the study you have conducted is new, addresses an important question for the field, and is needed at the present time. AL analysis has identified 6 important argument stages that successful authors use to achieve that goal – note that they are not always used in the order listed here.

1. Present the context or background to your study, claiming its importance to the field and to the interests of the journal’s readers.

2. Lay a foundation of information already known by presenting findings of other researchers on aspects of the problem you addressed.

3. Indicate the need for more investigation by highlighting a gap in the existing work, showing a need for extension of the work, or creating a research ‘niche’ that your study fills.

4. 3 alternatives here, depending on your research field and the journal’s conventions: a) state the purpose/objectives of your study; OR outline the main activity of the paper or study (e.g. ‘here we analyze … and investigate …’); OR summarize the findings of the study (used in some fields/journals only).

5. Optionally, highlight a positive value or benefit of carrying out the study.

6. In some research fields only – include a ‘map’ of how the rest of the article is organized. You will know whether you need this stage from reading a selection of recent articles from your target journal. This is a very important strategy for all of us as we prepare a manuscript for submission – analyze well-cited examples from your target journal.

Use the writing process to clarify your argument

Our experience indicates that it cuts down the time needed to reach an effective introduction if you begin by writing your Stage 4 – it will come towards the end in the final draft, of course, but writing it first helps you map out what evidence you need in the other stages. The Stage 4 should emerge from robust analysis and interpretation of your results in the context of previous research. Make sure that your Stage 4 sentences are comprehensive and include all the parameters that make your study novel and significant. Once you and your co-authors are happy with the wording of Stage 4, write a clear Stage 3 – don’t leave it to your readers to guess or make assumptions about the gap you are aiming to fill or the problem you are addressing.

Then you can underline the key terms in your Stages 3 and 4 that need to be introduced and justified in the earlier stages of the introduction. You may need to write more than one paragraph of Stage 1/2 information, especially if there are several ‘strands’ to the rationale for your study – but it will be clear what is needed now. Try several ways of ordering this information, to get the clearest logical flow and target the interests of the journal readers at the beginning.

To help develop your skills for writing introductions, it is useful to analyze successful examples from your own field of research. We present such an analysis for the field of Nanotechnology here. This presentation also includes tips on responding effectively to referee reports.

For more on using this method to improve your skills for writing effective scientific articles, see our popular book ‘Writing Scientific Research Articles: Strategy and Steps, 2nd Edition’.

An abridged version of the first edition of this book with Chinese vocabulary glossary (3 chapters, including the chapter on writing introductions) is freely available here.

    Elaine Musgrave
Elaine Musgrave
Senior Manager, Educational Products, Wiley

In the first part of this three post series, we recommended some strategies for you to start planning how to go about developing your eLearning platform solution. Today, we will look at how to start mapping out your requirements for your platform.

Building piece by piece

Consider the various components that make up an eLearning platform. If you have access, experiment with one or two existing eLearning platforms (some organizations and technology providers have demo activities you can trial). Whether or not you find the presentation engaging or the content useful, spend some time thinking about the different components required to make possible the delivery of those activities to the end-user. You’ll probably come up with a list of components that includes elements (sometimes overlapping ones) for specific activities and general platform development along the lines of the following:

e-learning table

This list may seem overwhelming, but don’t despair! Your organization doesn’t have to tackle these components alone or even be primarily responsible for all of them. For now, identify your ideal plan for:


    • How you’ll ask your member network to participate as subject matter experts


    • Who will have day-to-day responsibility for each of the components above


This preparatory framework will help highlight where having an optimized user interface requiring little or no training will be most important (i.e., for learners and authors) and where in the process you can accept a higher level of system expertise (and therefore a greater time investment in system training) in order to achieve the platform functionality you desire. It’s also important to acknowledge the human resource costs associated with building and maintaining an eLearning platform—this step will help you evaluate potential technology providers on the level of service they are able to supply in populating the platform with content and maintaining the platform after launch.shutterstock_127456460_271802556_271802557_256224451.jpg

Plan for the level of assistance you need upfront

eLearning platforms are not just resource-intensive during the development and launch phases; they’re also going to require maintenance and updating. Make sure before going out to potential providers that you have a plan for how those ongoing efforts will be resourced. Will it be a full-time person on the society staff? Will the provider do the technical work?

Write it down

Writing down the specifics is important throughout the eLearning platform development process, whether you’re deep in requirements gathering or negotiating a contract with your chosen technology provider. Good initial requirements documentation will save you lots of headaches down the road. If you’ve followed our recommendations, you’re already well on your way to developing a list of basic requirements.

Next have a session with your internal development team where you identify the level of priority for those requirements: is a given requirement critical? important? nice to have? Think strategically during this exercise.

It’s only after you have your requirements well detailed that it will be helpful to start charting the capabilities of specific technology providers against those requirements. The tendency is to label everything “critical,” but chances are you won’t find a provider who can deliver everything you want right away, so being realistic and pragmatic about what you need right now and what you would be happy to see in a few years’ time will help you find the provider best suited to your needs.

In part 3 of this series next week, we’ll get to some of the issues you’ll want to consider when talking to potential technology vendors.

Image Credit/Source:Zadorozhnyi Viktor/Shutterstock

    Peter Krautzberger 
Peter Krautzberger
Manager, MathJax 

"Without mathematics, there’s nothing you can do. Everything around you is mathematics."

Shakuntala Devi


Source: xiver/Thinkstock
Source: xiver/Thinkstock

It has always surprised me a little that the web – created at CERN by a trained physicist turned computer scientist – was born without much consideration for math and science. Of course, it isn’t all that surprising since the original HTML lacked more basic things (such as support for tables or images). Either way, people did see the need early on and in 1995 the draft of HTML 3 proposed a <math> tag, adding basic math support in HTML. Unfortunately, HTML 3 was rejected by browser vendors, and its more fortunate successor, HTML 3.2,dropped the <math> tag (among other things). As was the fashion of the time, the <math> tag was turned into a separate XML specification and within a year MathML was born. Problem solved? Not quite.

MathML did turn out to be hugely successful in the XML world. Authoring and conversion tools quickly made MathML easy to create and edit while publishers adopted MathML in their XML workflows. The main reason was that MathML provided a robust, exchangeable, and reusable format for rendering and archiving equational content. However, XML did not succeed as much on the open web and the XML legacy made it difficult to use MathML in HTML itself. This meant that mathematics (and by extension scientific notation) remained a second-class citizen. Surprisingly, MathML did not simply fade away like other web standards, but made a comeback in HTML 5, where we can now use it like any other tag. Problem solved? Not quite.

Despite its success, its rich ecosystem, and its importance for research and education, MathML continues to struggle on the most critical front: browser adoption. So far, not a single browser vendor has actively developed their MathML implementation. While Internet Explorer and Chrome lack MathML support entirely, Firefox and Safari at least accepted code contributed by volunteers (and in Mozilla’s case actively supported the code base). To compensate, the MathJax project (disclaimer: which I work for) developed an open-source JavaScript solution that authors and publishers can easily drop into their content. MathJax renders MathML on the fly, providing high-quality output that works everywhere out of the box, using only web standards such as HTML and CSS. A joint venture of the American Mathematical Society and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics with the support from numerous sponsors, including Wiley, MathJax has become the gold standard for math on the web with our free CDN service alone registering 35 million daily visitors. Problem solved? Not quite.

While we are proud of our accomplishments at MathJax, we know that we can only provide half the solution: native browser support must be the goal. Only native browser support can make MathML universal, helping everyone and allowing people to push the envelope for math and science on the web further. I believe a crucial role lies with publishers. Taking a cue from Forbes, now every publishing company is a web technology company. Not being involved in the development and implementation of web standards is a bit like printing books but not caring about literacy rates – if you build it, they still can’t come! When it comes to the development of the web, scientific publishers can become the bridge between authors and standards bodies and they can be instrumental in supporting the development of tools and processes that push everyone forward. Problem solved? Not quite but if you build this

The re-integration of MathML into HTML5 was a huge step towards math and science becoming first class citizens on the web. MathML is not only a fully accessible exchange format for mathematics but it is also part of other scientific markup such as the Chemistry Markup Language and the Cell Markup Language. The future of MathML in browsers will determine the future of scientific markup on the open web. In the end, a chemical reaction or a data plot has no more reason to be a binary image than an equation – we need markup that is alive in the page and can adapt to the needs of the users. Only this will allow us to develop new forms of expressing scientific thought, forms that are leveraging the full breadth of the open web platform and that are truly native to this amazing medium called the web. And that would be an exciting problem to have.

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